Of words, bloody deeds, and bestial oblivion : Hamlet and Elektra

  • On July 17, 1904, Hugo von Hofmannsthal wrote in his notebook: "'Elektra' […] Die Verwandtschaft und der Gegensatz zu Hamlet waren mir auffallend". He reiterated the parallels in two letters to two different addressees, Christiane Thun-Salm (October 12, 1903) and Ernst Hladny (ca. 1909-1911), and in 1912 he wrote to Richard Strauss, whose opera based on the play had premiered in 1909, about the similarity between the two royal children: "[D]a sind alle Grundmotive identisch, und doch, wer denkt bei Elektra an Hamlet!" Indeed, comparing William Shakespeare’s "Hamlet" (ca. 1600) and Hugo von Hofmannsthal's "Elektra" (1903) may not seem to be the most obvious task to undertake. At first glance, the English Renaissance humanism of "Hamlet" may appear utterly incompatible with the Viennese fin-de-siècle modernism of "Elektra", but the parallels and similarities of the two plays far exceed the mere fact that both protagonists are children of murdered kings whose mothers pick their new lovers from among their relatives. In fact, I should like to suggest that "Elektra" is a direct response to "Hamlet", and should be read as the modernist continuation of the humanist Prince of Denmark and his "antic disposition".

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Author:Maria Euchner
Parent Title (German):Hofmannsthal : Jahrbuch ; zur europäischen Moderne ; im Auftr. der Hugo von Hofmannsthal-Gesellschaft hrsg
Publisher:Rombach Verlag
Place of publication:Freiburg
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2018
Year of first Publication:2015
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2019/04/09
GND Keyword:Hofmannsthal, Hugo von; Elektra; Shakespeare, William; Hamlet
Page Number:25
First Page:265
Last Page:289
Dewey Decimal Classification:8 Literatur / 83 Deutsche und verwandte Literaturen / 830 Literaturen germanischer Sprachen; Deutsche Literatur
Sammlungen:Germanistik / GiNDok
Germanistik / GiNDok / Rombach Verlag
Germanistik / GiNDok / Hugo von Hofmannsthal-Gesellschaft
BDSL-Klassifikation:16.00.00 Jahrhundertwende (1880-1914) / BDSL-Klassifikation: 16.00.00 Jahrhundertwende (1880-1914) > 16.15.00 Zu einzelnen Autoren
Zeitschriften / Jahresberichte:Hofmannsthal : Jahrbuch / Hofmannsthal 23.2015
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht